may seem more realistic to people who are generally uninformed about the technologies and underlying science. In the end, it is the story, or narrative, that sticks, not the intricacies of the science.
“Old Europe.” In general, European environmental NGOs and activists are more aggressive, radicalized, and media savvy, and have, to date, promoted a more cautious approach to new technologies than their American counterparts, said Rejeski. Much of the negative feedback against GMOs came from Europe, and the movement against nanotech in Europe may also evolve in a similar way. Rejeski stated that the European Union has developed and refined the precautionary principle over a number of years. This model rests on the premise that society needs to “learn and act,” in contrast to the United States approach to new technologies, which is more to “act and then learn.” Many European countries, as well as the European Union and Commission, also have rigorous technology assessment systems in place. In contrast, the U.S. Congress eliminated the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) in 1995, which could have played an important role in evaluating genomics, nanotechnology, and other new science. According to Rejeski, it is important to have an office like OTA that can operate at the interface of science and public policy. This interface is traditionally under-developed and understaffed by government, but crucial to the development of new technologies in ways that are socially and environmentally responsible. In concluding, Rejeski suggested that policy makers need to start thinking about voluntary agreements with industry on the responsible use of nanotechnology and push the development of more models that bring together universities, NGOs, and industry to develop principles and best practices. It is very important to start this process today not two years from now, said Rejeski.